Chain re­ac­tion

Carl Moul­ton, 41, from Not­ting Hill, was lucky to be alive af­ter a chain­saw sliced through his neck…

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Tug­ging on the starter rope, the chain­saw in my hand roared to life.

‘Heads up!’ I called out to my col­leagues as the pow­er­ful ma­chin­ery sliced through the tree branch like but­ter.

With just ropes and a har­ness keep­ing me in place, and climb­ing to dizzy­ing heights, this cer­tainly wasn’t a job for the faint-hearted.

But I’d been work­ing as a tree sur­geon for 15 years.

I was the most ex­pe­ri­enced on the team, scal­ing back a tree at a pri­mary school in Ham­mer­smith.

And, at 60ft tall and 40ft wide, this tree was a beast.

It was shed­ding its branches onto the play­ground be­low, and the teach­ers were wor­ried about the kids get­ting hurt.

I had four chil­dren of my own – Kyle, 20, Jenna, 10, Che­don, five, and Ni­amh, three – and I hated to think of any of them be­ing hurt.

Slowly mov­ing to the last branch, I was bal­anced pre­car­i­ously high above the road next to the school.

Care­fully pulling the chain­saw away from my util­ity belt, where it hung on a long stretch of elas­tic, I be­gan cut­ting away at the branch above me. Sud­denly, my feet slipped. My hands re­leased the chain­saw as I stead­ied my­self, and then it reared back, fly­ing to­wards me!

Frozen in shock, the saw smashed into my throat. Its jagged teeth sliced at my Adam’s ap­ple, spray­ing blood ev­ery­where. This is it, I thought, ter­ri­fied. IÕM go­ing to die. I thought about my kids, and then ev­ery­thing went out of fo­cus. Then the ma­chine’s safety mech­a­nism switched on, and the teeth whirred to a stop.

Blood was seep­ing down my chest.

I opened my mouth, and was sur­prised when I man­aged to get a few words out. ‘I’ve cut my neck,’ I wailed. But down be­low, the wood­chip­per was whirring.

None of my col­leagues could hear me.

Mus­ter­ing all my strength, I grabbed the ropes and grap­pled my way back to the tree trunk. I knew I had to get down. But it was a race against time, as I was rapidly los­ing blood.

Some­how I man­aged to ab­seil back down to the ground.

‘The chain­saw’s cut my neck,’ I panted, col­laps­ing. One of the work ex­pe­ri­ence lads started scream­ing.

I was hooked out of my har­ness and helped to a chair, while some­one called an am­bu­lance. Af­ter 15 years on the job, I’d never had so much as a nick with a chain­saw.

Now I’d only gone and slit my own throat! Look­ing down, I saw that I also had a huge gash across my arm – gooey flesh, fat and mus­cle were seep­ing out.

The chain­saw must have smashed into my arm be­fore re­bound­ing into my neck.

The air am­bu­lance, paramedics and po­lice soon ar­rived on the scene. ‘How is he not bleed­ing more?’ I heard a para­medic say. I was given a dose of mor­phine, just in case the shock wore off and the pain hit me. My head was spin­ning. Ar­riv­ing at St Mary’s Hospi­tal in Padding­ton, about 30 staff were wait­ing for me. They all agreed I’d been lucky – the saw was just 5mm away from sev­er­ing an artery. It could have taken my head off. Later, my mum brought Ni­amh in to see me. ‘I love you baby girl,’ I cried, giv­ing her a hug. Af­ter many stitches and three days in hospi­tal, I’ve been left with a 6 inch gash on my left arm and a 3 inch wound on my neck. I haven’t re­turned to work yet, but I will soon. I’m one lucky sap!

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